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India up against Sri Lanka in must-win encounter

Virat Kohli will look to shore up the net run rate as India strive for big win to make it to the final

India up against Sri Lanka in must-win encounter - Cricket News
India captain Virat Kohli will look to carry forward his great form against Sri Lanka to seal a berth in the final.
Get your calculators ready. It is that time in the Celkon Mobile Tri-Nation Series when the net run rates are going to play a decisive role in who the finalists will be. India (-0.524) is behind West Indies (-0.383) and, therefore, will look to beat Sri Lanka by a sizeable margin on Tuesday (July 9) to seal the all-important berth in the final.

Sri Lanka, unless a dastardly defeat rocks its boat, is almost through. It lost Nuwan Kulasekara to a finger injury and might be slightly disadvantaged playing India the day after beating West Indies. A well-rested India, however, must carve its own destiny and is likely to chase if Virat Kohli wins the toss, especially with a hint of rain around, to inch past West Indies in the net run rate column.

Dinesh Chandimal has said Sri Lanka will look to win the game outright. Although he felt the bowlers might be a little “stiff” playing on back-to-back days, it should not be a major problem. He also said that while the absence of Kulasekara, with his expertise in swinging and seaming the ball, will hurt, it might open up playing time for someone like Dilhara Lokuhettige.

India will be playing against a familiar opponent in Sri Lanka but familiarity doesn’t amount for much when facing a ‘must-win’ situation. Kohli, the stand-in captain, has been most prolific against the Lankans but he wasn’t going to get carried away by that, considering the pasting India received last week from the same opponent. “There is no such thing as guarantee in cricket,” said Kohli. “I can’t say I’m going to go out there and score against Sri Lanka in every game I play against them. It’s a new game of cricket and every one in the team has to work hard [to achieve a win].” He added that he and his team would take a bit of motivation from their good performances against the Sri Lankans in recent times. 

The weather has turned cricket into a bit of a hide and seek and it’s not likely to change for the better as the rainy season takes hold of Trinidad. The teams aren’t likely to change their approach in terms of preparations for the crunch match but will look to be flexible with their strategies and be quick to “react to situations”. India, especially, will have to be adept at reading the changing conditions as it has a lot riding on the margin of victory. 

The pitches in Queen’s Park Oval have helped seam bowling and also aided the fast bowlers with bounce. Considering that, both teams would prefer going in with at least three frontline seamers. India would probably play the same XI that defeated West Indies three days ago while Sri Lanka will be forced to bring in a replacement for Kulasekara. 

India’s win against West Indies was achieved on the backs of sane and stable opening partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, and a swashbuckling century from Kohli. While it will hope for a repeat of the performance, India will also expect the other middle-order bats to come to the party.

Despite what has been reported about the little kerfuffle between Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, Kohli insisted that there was a “great bond between the members of the team and great friendships on the field”.

He added that the exciting cricket that his team has played in the last few weeks is because “everyone is happy for each other and cares for each other’s performance and the one mission is to win”.

Teams (Likely):

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli [c], Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma. 

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews [c], Jeevan Mendis, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Shaminda Eranga, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake.

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